Killing time: part three

A thread for discussion of the final act of the Rudd-Gillard government, to be raked over this evening on ABC Television.

Ahead of tonight’s finale, one last thread for discussion of ABC Television’s The Killing Season, and the disintegration of the previous government more generally.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

110 comments on “Killing time: part three”

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  1. 6 years aint so bad.

    If the NSW ALP want to find someone to blame for their electoral problems (or find someone to get them out of the problems) then I would direct them to the hall of mirrors. First they need to pull their heads our of arses.

  2. Simon Katich@51

    6 years aint so bad.

    If the NSW ALP want to find someone to blame for their electoral problems (or find someone to get them out of the problems) then I would direct them to the hall of mirrors. First they need to pull their heads our of arses.

    As I have long argued, there needs to be Federal intervention to thoroughly clean up the NSW branch. They cannot be trusted to do it themselves.

    It worked wonders in Victoria.

  3. “I never understood why Tanner hated Gillard so much”

    Tanner had a problem with assertive women.
    He shared that with most COALition pollies and staffers.

  4. I’d forgotten Alan Jones said that (repressed it?). What a low life.

    And Abbott. How many times he said “died of shame”.

    The use of the language of violence around all this is interesting, well disturbing. Not only to describe what Gillard (and Rudd) did but the language used about her. Jones with the Chaff bag comment and the two liberal clowns on last night. Both of them talked about her being “killed” by the men in her party for their own good.

    At no time did Abbott stand up and say “enough of this unacceptable violent imagery about killing women.” He could have and he still would have won the election, maybe with more support and some actual political capital. But that’s just not the sort of leader he is.

    Some people claim domestic violence in Australia is getting worse. Is it any wonder?

    The Abbott doco could be called The Sound and The Fury.

  5. Re the show tonight: everything you need to know was encapsulated in the fact that, after earlier praising Shorten, Julia talked about Shorten openly telling her well in advance of the last challenge that he’d be backing Rudd. And then Rudd and his staffer happily contributing to a picture of Shorten engaging in late night skulduggery.

    Julia Gillard, still 100% loyal to her party and its current leader. As for others…

    Again, as with the first two episodes, the true character of all involved were there to see for those who care to look. And this was despite the moderately pro-Rudd bias of the show.

    What was really interesting was to hear Fitzgibbon, Bowen, Griffin and Dastyari all use the same excuse for their disloyal actions: WTTE of “everybody undermines and backgrounds the press and they did it first, etc”.

    Nothing like: “Rudd was a fine leader and we needed him back”. In the end, it was all about bloody polling and focus groups in Western Sydney yet again.

    Sarah Ferguson bought all their nonsense: according to her, Rudd saved 25 seats.

  6. Bemused old boy, the pensioner leak was good enough to convince jg to get Kevin inside the tent as FM. We all know it was Kevin. His refusal to release journos from their professional silence, (sadly not included in Ep 3 as it should have been) says it all for those dim witted enough to not put 2 &2 together – and believe kr.

    And that leak was devastating in the election campaign causing the minority govt with all its problems, given kr, Craig and Pete.

    Jg has shown, having killed with the sword, that she was prepared to die in the same way without rancour. Pity kr is still a blabbing mess.

    And shorten did the right thing by speaking to jg before he switched sides. Bad luck for those who would wish to paint him as a betrayer.

  7. Youse DO have to remember that the pommy making the “They stuffed it all in six years” comes from a system when even a one term government lasts 5.

    We still have about 6 months or so for Abbott to catch up to Rudd’s duration as PM without being knifed.

    If he goes sooner, then at last they might have to shut up about “dysfunction”.

    Abbott’s having lots of brain fart ideas, all of them contradicting each other, no-one knowing WTF the policy is today, comes close to that definition.

    He’s already survived one spill by a much narrower margin than Gillard’s first. The next will be the killer. It is inconceivable that knives aren’t being sharpened right now.

  8. Windhover: yes, it was interesting to hear the assertion tonight that JG believed she had to put KR in Cabinet to stop the leaks. If the story I have heard was true, then that action shouldn’t have been any help at all, and Gillard should have known that.

    So we have two contradictory stories here. Maybe the the truth is more complex than anyone thinks.

  9. [Re the show tonight: everything you need to know was encapsulated in the fact that, after earlier praising Shorten, Julia talked about Shorten openly telling her well in advance of the last challenge that he’d be backing Rudd. And then Rudd and his staffer happily contributing to a picture of Shorten engaging in late night skulduggery.]

    Funny that.

    I have a bit more respect for Gillard after tonight. The whole thing was a grubby business but she certainly didn’t seem bitter and ungracious about it. Rudd on the other hand… a bit of a prick really.

    Someone said:

    [The series confirms what i have always believed:]

    It was always gonna be that way for all of us wasn’t it?

  10. […to thoroughly clean up the NSW branch. They cannot be trusted to do it themselves.]

    The voters nearly did it in 2011. I had hoped for a wipeout, and lost all interest in NSW politics…. although some still chew my ears off about it.

  11. [Maybe the the truth is more complex than anyone thinks.]

    Are you saying that as a general comment or in specific reference to the show?

  12. Windhover@58

    Bemused old boy, the pensioner leak was good enough to convince jg to get Kevin inside the tent as FM. We all know it was Kevin. His refusal to release journos from their professional silence, (sadly not included in Ep 3 as it should have been) says it all for those dim witted enough to not put 2 &2 together – and believe kr.

    And that leak was devastating in the election campaign causing the minority govt with all its problems, given kr, Craig and Pete.

    Jg has shown, having killed with the sword, that she was prepared to die in the same way without rancour. Pity kr is still a blabbing mess.

    And shorten did the right thing by speaking to jg before he switched sides. Bad luck for those who would wish to paint him as a betrayer.

    😆 oh the irony of it!

    Pointing to Shorten’s example just highlights Julia’s lack of loyalty to her leader in June 2010.

    99% of the damage occurred in that day of madness in June 2010. Those involved should be damned in the annals of Labor history.

    The rest was just the inevitable playing out of what had been created.

  13. All in all it was a pretty shallow program. There wasn’t much that was new, and Rudd behaved little the pure little choir boy yet again.

    According to him, he never put a foot wrong. It was always someone else: Simon Crean or those naughty journos who broke the “off the record” deal. At least Gillard admitted it when she stuffed up.

    It’s impossible to divorce the continuous Groundhog Day atmosphere of “Rudd is challenging next week” – which went on for nearly 150 weeks – from Gillard missteps. She was under pressure and couldn’t do anything about it due to the hung parliament. Her character assessment of Rudd was clearly that he would rat on the party publicly if she ditched him and go public with his destructive desire for revenge.

    Rudd fools a lot of people. He fooled me a bit, maybe more than a bit, but not completely. I always thought there was something not quite genuine about him, confected.

  14. Get Shorten is running bigtime in Fairfax, about 8 pages worth over the weekend. Wonder who he pissed off over there. Not much evidence all booga booga inference…

  15. [Maybe the the truth is more complex than anyone thinks.]

    Whats the quote….
    [Mulder, the truth is out there, but so are lies.]

    Deep.

  16. Simon Katich@62

    …to thoroughly clean up the NSW branch. They cannot be trusted to do it themselves.


    The voters nearly did it in 2011. I had hoped for a wipeout, and lost all interest in NSW politics…. although some still chew my ears off about it.

    Voters can only deal with the members of parliament and it is not always the right ones they deal with.

    It is the party machine that most needs fixing. The voters can’t touch them. Pity about that.

  17. [I wonder what the ABC series about the current govt will be called in three years time?]

    The Golden Years. It’s their ABC after all.

  18. Bemused,

    voters cant touch them directly. Voters can get rid of those that stood idly by… should have been a lesson. But sure, if that didnt do the trick then get the feds in to tear them a new one.

    Nice to know you are still speaking to me. You should probably be aware that I didnt get nominated as a Nick X candidate at the next election.

  19. Simon Katich@70

    Bemused,

    voters cant touch them directly. Voters can get rid of those that stood idly by… should have been a lesson. But sure, if that didnt do the trick then get the feds in to tear them a new one.

    Nice to know you are still speaking to me. You should probably be aware that I didnt get nominated as a Nick X candidate at the next election.

    Why shouldn’t I speak to you? Most of your stuff is reasonable even if I may not agree 100%.

    I didn’t even know you wanted to be a Nick X candidate.

  20. [99% of the damage occurred in that day of madness in June 2010. Those involved should be damned in the annals of Labor history.]

    This. Of course we have most of the usual suspects giving their POV as though it’s some sort of objective truth but this is what it comes down to.

    And I think the most telling part of tonight’s episode were the pictures of Rudd’s staffers when they heard the news. I have worked for/with some genuine bastards, and there is no way that anyone who worked with them would have reacted like this on their sacking.

  21. adrian

    [I have worked for/with some genuine bastards, and there is no way that anyone who worked with them would have reacted like this on their sacking.]

    I wondered that as well. Still I have heard from many sources that Rudd is a PITA to work for.

  22. [I didn’t even know you wanted to be a Nick X candidate.]

    I dont. I was joking. But I might scrutinise for them for kicks.

    [Why shouldn’t I speak to you?]

    You seemed rather displeased with my voting habits. But thats all water under the ugly new Torrens River footbridge.

    One last thing before I crash…. never listen to any Brit when it comes to our politics. No matter who. 6 years aint bad.

    But 3 years…..well that would be catastrophic!

  23. So glad they highlighted the Alan Jones “died of shame” comment, closely followed by a “died of shame” reference from Abbott. In a way, that is likely to have more cut through now than it did then. I say that because at the time voters sadly would not have really cared, such was the mood against JG and the Government. Now though, it will play in to what people think of Abbott. This show has been rating well too!

    For me, as others have said, it just reinforced the complete madness of June 2010. As far as I am concerned, that night is why we now have PM Abbott and everything that goes with it.

  24. matt

    [Just as a side note, I have a friend who worked for KR. She has nothing but positive words about her experience.]

    I know it’s easy to take this comment the wrong way but lots of Hitler’s staff thought he was wonderful and thoughtful. I worked for a truly disgusting human being once and quite a few of his staff adored him.

  25. I should clarify that I don’t think Rudd was like Hitler or is a disgusting human being. I’m saying that some personality types can polarise reasonable people heavily into love or hate depending on lots of factors.

  26. Diogenes
    Posted Tuesday, June 23, 2015 at 11:16 pm | PERMALINK
    matt

    Just as a side note, I have a friend who worked for KR. She has nothing but positive words about her experience.

    I know it’s easy to take this comment the wrong way but lots of Hitler’s staff thought he was wonderful and thoughtful. I worked for a truly disgusting human being once and quite a few of his staff adored him.

    ——-good logic there — the rudd demolition team are at it again … i think the comment was reasonable to retort not

  27. now tell: to JG comes anywhere near admitting she made a mistake let alone making apology for consequences?

    i assume she justifies the mistake – hence no watchie

    does anyone in labor admit it was mistake and show regret esp supporters at time

    one side is climate deniers the other coup deniers

  28. Diogenes @ 43

    “A few people looked good; Albo, Emerson, Macklin and Ferguson for a very well done series.”

    Greg Combet also i thought. Always just straight and to the point. A big loss.

  29. Main takeaway for me was a reminder of what a revolting excuse for a human being Alan Jones is.

    I liked Rudd’s generous comments on Gillard’s misogyny speech. Spoke for all of us there. That was arsekicking oratory of the highest order.

  30. [Get Shorten is running bigtime in Fairfax, about 8 pages worth over the weekend. Wonder who he pissed off over there. Not much evidence all booga booga inference…]

    Funny how these chumps suddenly remembered the need to roadtest potential national leaders after 2013.

  31. I said I wouldn’t come back but I couldn’t resist. Some comments (but not on Rudd v Gillard).

    First, top marks to the person who nominated Plan 9 from Outer Space as the movie of the Abbott years. Truly inspired – awful, chaotic and appalling planned and put together. Plus vampires and terribly obvious props.

    Second, while I used to have a lot of time for Lindsay Tanner, my opinion of him went belly up when watching him on Q&A after he retired. He was sitting next to Porky PyneNuts and a former colleague (I’m pretty sure it was Kate Ellis) was answering a question when he started chatting with Porky about Upstairs Downstairs. While it might seem small beer, the sheer disrespect shown to a former colleague – and a woman – was appalling. While I would expect such behaviour from Porky, the conduct from Tanner really shook me. That is by way of saying that someone with such reputed hatred of Julia Gillard and such disrespect for women and colleagues could well have been the infamous leaker. That said, Jenny Macklin, Julia Gillard and other still put it down to Rudd.

    If Meher Baba’s source in the ALP actually knew, rather than engaging in informed speculation, that it wasn’t Rudd, Gillard and Macklin would have known by now too. While Gillard haters might think she would still have blamed Rudd because it fit with her narrative (I don’t believe so by the way) it would be hard to believe that Macklin would too.

    Whoever did it, it was the greatest act of bastardry within a mainstream political party that I have ever seen and whoever was responsible was an utter traitor, given that it sufficiently derailed the Labor campaign to result in a hung Parliament and everything that followed from that outcome.

  32. Another interesting conclusion from the show: people who worked closely with Rudd didnt dislike him anywhere near as much as some have made out over the last few years.

    Characters assassinations have their own momentum, especially with the legitimacy of ascension to high office at stake.

  33. [Whoever did it, it was the greatest act of bastardry within a mainstream political party that I have ever seen and whoever was responsible was an utter traitor, given that it sufficiently derailed the Labor campaign to result in a hung Parliament and everything that followed from that outcome.]

    Without disputing this point – WTF was Gillard doing opposing paid parental leave, at any point?

    Dont underestimate how much the actual content of the position itself (for which only she can account) did damage as well.

  34. Taylor

    Always thought Combet was great. He seems deeply unhappy now.

    Lefty

    Gillard always had a tin ear for politics. Opposing PPL was just one of many bad decisions she made, many of which were rookie mistakes as Combet said.

  35. Re the fact that some of Kevin’s personal staff liked him.

    1). It was said during the 2007-2010 period that he had a very high rate of turnover of staff. The PM’s Office is always a stressful place to work, so that might not have been about Rudd, but it might have been.

    2) One of the main criticisms of Rudd was that everything revolved around him and his moods: if he was having a bad hair day, or feeling bored, then he wouldn’t deal with the things he was meant to deal with: no matter how urgent, no matter how many people were inconvenienced (eg, because they had been waiting for hours to see him), etc. But, at other times (including 5 o’clock in the morning) he would suddenly decide that something he had been putting off was incredibly urgent. People would be summoned from all over, papers hastily prepared, meetings arranged. And then, within a few hours, his mood would have changed again, and he’d drop that matter and decide to focus on something else. A lot of the changes in his mood would be driven by what the media was running with that day.

    If you work directly in the office of someone like that, it’s actually your job to cater to their changing moods and whims. So the sort of behaviour I described at 2) wouldn’t be too hard to put up with: although you might get burnt our after a while (and Rudd had a high turnover of personal staff and, eventually, got completely burn out himself).

    But, if you worked for the larger machine of government – as a Minister or public official – it must have been very difficult: especially as he only person to whom Rudd seemed prepared to delegate anything was Julia (who he clearly trusted and by whose actions he demonstrably remains terribly hurt). Rumour has it that, by early 2010, he had even had a major falling our with his hand-picked head of the PM’s Department, Terry Moran. If true, that must have made things very tough.

    You see, the point with a job like PM is that – in between media and parliamentary performances – much of it involves what the Queen would describe as “service”: ie, being there for others. Being prepared to make the crucial phone call at the right time that clinches the deal. Spending 5 minutes thanking the people who have done all the hard work. Going to the 25th tedious function that week. Reading (or at least glancing at) those papers and signing your name at the bottom so that a whole massive process can get under way. Meeting those business leaders and smiling through their boring, self-serving pitches.

    Some PM’s – eg, Fraser, Hawke and Howard – seemed really to relish that part of the role. Keating not so much, but he was happy to delegate much of it to others like Beazley.

    From what i’ve heard, Rudd seems to have struggled to adapt his self-center and rather disorganized and distracted way of working to this aspect of the job. But he also found it hard to delegate. I haven’t heard that he was especially nasty to people.

  36. This ‘diary’ provides a little more detail of what working with Kevin was like.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-06-23/the-killing-seasona-diary-of-rudds-former-speechwriter/6562604

    [2007: The challenge working with Kevin is that he tends to create this highly pressured environment that brings anxiety and terseness, rather than creating an environment of hard working enthusiastic cooperation. It leaves lots of people feeling unhappy…]

    [(April 26) The budget process is preoccupying much of the office at the moment. Kevin is so preoccupied with day to day media that he doesn’t get into the substance of reading the folders full of information that need to be processed for the Budget process – so decisions are being pushed further and further back…]

    [2008: I was thinking yesterday why I was successful in finding the voice of Kim Beazley and even Mark Latham but can’t find Kevin’s voice in writing for him. Part of the answer is that he’s the least authentic – and I’m not sure what he thinks his core is, beyond a general Labor belief in compassion and equity. Many of his instincts are opposed to the Labor Party…]

    [Feb 2010: All of us think that Kevin has dramatically shortened his political longevity by the way he’s overplayed and overdone himself, constantly pushing for more announcements, more spending, more hyper claims and policy making on the run. So many people are just looking forward to Julia Gillard becoming PM…]

    [June 29: Campaign leaks

    Revelations that Julia opposed the Paid Parental Leave scheme, and also the big pensions increase, have made her look two-faced though in fact she was only being sensible … in questioning the timing and affordability of those policy measures. Julia showed more maturity and leadership – and just level headed common sense – than Kevin did through those times. But in the middle of a campaign it throws questions into the ring about what she really stands for and whether she is in touch with average families…

    July 31: The campaign is degenerating

    A sense of despair is coming into Labor ranks – the campaign is disintegrating because of media preoccupation with the leaks and the perception of disunity within government…]

  37. Lizzie@94: interesting stuff. Dixon is a relatively objective source: he worked for Rudd right through his first stint as PM and then, because he wasn’t particularly close to the Gillardistas, made way after the 2010 election for Michael Cooney, the author of a recent book about the period.

    For me, the most interesting thing Dixon said in those diary extracts was something you haven’t quoted:

    “[A senior staffer] in his office this week made the insightful observation that Kevin – and his chief of staff Alister – is a crisis personality. He feeds off crisis; he makes his best decisions in a crisis…”

    Again we hear about the same problem that people I trust have told me about Rudd. That he was unable to focus for very long on the day-to-day minutiae of the PM’s job. And yet he couldn’t bear to leave the decision-making on these things to others (and, to be fair, there were some decisions that couldn’t be left to others).

    And it wasn’t just the minutiae: it was anything that didn’t catch his interest at that particular time. A good example was climate change. In last night’s show, we saw a media clip from Rudd in 2012-2013 saying something like: “the factional leaders wanted to put climate change on the backburner but I opposed that.” But he gave the issue absolutely no attention in the six month period between Copenhagen and his overthrow. I can’t recall any sort of public comment from him about it, and both TKS – which was, on the whole, pretty sympathetic to Rudd – and the book Power Failure by Philip Chubb presented pretty convincing evidence that he wasn’t doing much behind the scenes.

    What he was doing was running around the country doing media appearances and selfies with hospital workers about his plans for health reform. I would be astonished if any of you could recall what those plans actually involved.

    Rudd was a restless leader always looking for the next big challenge. In Michael Cooney’s book, there’s a story about him sending back a draft speech to its author with the word “substantive” crossed out and the written comment “I don’t do substantive, I do big, biggest, best ever!”

    We saw it in 2013 when he came back and tried to fix everything in five minutes with huge policy changes left, right and centre.

    PM isn’t the right role for someone with that kind of energy. The PM isn’t actually responsible for coming up with the big ideas and driving through change. The PM’s role is to provide leadership at the big picture level and to sell the government’s collective achievements to the electorate. Hawke didn’t try to be the hero on everything: he let Keating shine in economic policy (even though Hawke had forgotten more about economics than Keating had ever learnt), Evans shine in Foreign Affairs, Button take the lead on industry policy, Blewett with Medicare, etc, etc. That all worked really well.

    Rudd needed to be the centre of everything: not just as the front man getting all the credit and attention – which would have worked – but the guy with all the great ideas, the decision-maker on everything, etc., etc. He’d have made a fabulous entrepreneur in the private sector.

  38. As a dramatic sequence, I felt TKS failed. To give the full picture of the Gillard government I felt there should have been 4 parts, not three. There was not enough of the media frenzy, the shockjocks, the Murdoch papers, and the Opposition’s part in the disasters which put Gillard under daily pressure.

  39. Apparently, even now, some people simply cannot accept that Gillards problems were because:

    -of the way in which she assumed the leadership; complete loss of authority, inability to rest on previous successes. The attempts to erase Rudd from Labor history were just very silly.

    -Her, and her backers, hamfisted attempts at political tactics. Watching Tiernan just reinforced what complete political numb-skulls these folks were/are. Do even need to provide examples?

    -And her, and those that surrounded her, toxic unpopularity. Its not so much that her backers were ‘faceless’, its that voters tended hate their faces. Watching Howes and Farrell certainly made me annoyed.

    Swan said a few illuminating things. He said that they should have gone harder on Rudd. This assumes that voters were willing to listen to Swan et al, when it was pretty clear that they didn’t give a toss for anything he and his ilk had to say about Rudd.

    He also said that with Gillard, now the party had a chance to have a ‘real’ Labor leader. My god, the sheer audacity of this statement is almost crushing in its stupidity. That people in the ALP still believe that Rudd wasn’t a ‘real’ Labor leader goes to show that even with the current favourable polling, the next election will probably be a disaster.

    Because from where I’m sitting it looks as if the defining characteristic of a ‘real’ Labor leader is un-electability

  40. notagin112

    Absolutely agree with you on most of your comment.

    When you rely on the likes of Swan Arbib Howes etc to give you advice you are done.

    Swan was supposedly Rudd’s best friend in politics but he is nothing more than a leech on the system still sitting there waiting for his pension to grow every day.

  41. “I wonder what the ABC series about the current govt will be called in three years time?”

    Australia’s Glory: How Tony Abbott and the Marvelous Liberal Party Made Everything Great Again

    Let’s face it, the ABC doesn’t have the guts to put a series critical of the Libs on air any more.

  42. “She was saying in 2010 if we stick with Kevin we will lose an election and we might lose it badly. Well if that your rationale in 2010, you have to accept, that the same rationale may be used in 2013 but for a very different conclusion.”

    Chris Bowen has hit the nail on the head. It’s quite laughable Julia Gillard suggesting that Kevin Rudd shouldn’t receive the leadership because it would reward destabilization considering she got the position that way herself. She was willing to lead the party to an annihilation and all for reasoning that was quite hypocritical.

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