The news sites are awash with stories about the leadership spill coming at 9am this morning in Australia. If even half of the media is correct, Julia Gillard will become Australia’s first female prime minister, and Kevin Rudd will become the first Labor prime minister to ever be kicked out of office by his own party before completing a single term.
Despite instituting policies that helped to isolate Australia from the worst of the Global Financial Crisis, Rudd has suffered huge blows in popularity over the last 6, and particular the last 3 months. This is in no small way attributed to the back flip over the emissions trading scheme that was originally touted as a central labor tenant in the 2007 election. It seems ironic that voters will take labor leaders to task over broken promises, but let liberal leaders get away with breaking any promise they want. It even led John Howard, our former and arguably most despicably divisive prime minister to come up with the term “non-core promise” to defend breaking promises. Not that the notion of “non-core promise” dissuaded John Howard from breaking core promises, such the promise that a GST would “never, ever” be on the political agenda.
Perhaps Australian voters expect more of labor leaders than they do of liberal leaders: the right can lie, the left must keep their promises.
Or maybe it’s a sign that Australia is starting to get serious about Green issues. That would certainly be reflected in the continual gains being made by the Greens in each state election, and the pathetic posturing by George Pell who recently bemoaned of the Greens: “Their program is explicitly anti-Christian.” (That’s funny, I’d have thought they were just trying to bring some balance to our already hopelessly religion riddled parliament, since the Exclusive Brethren sect has already demonstrated remarkable lobbying powers for a secretive organisation that claims to be above the voting process.)
If Julia Gillard does become Australia’s first female prime minister, I hope that she focuses on repairing some of the recent damage. Here’s a short list of things she could focus on:
- Reinstitute the ETS – even token efforts are better than none. After seeing this coverage from The Daily Show, I can see the same pattern in Australia, and I don’t think I’m the only one tired of politicians putting problems off to the next generation – and the next, and the next. Guess what people? We’re that generation that everyone has been putting problems off to. Like it or lump it, we have problems we have to solve now, not leave for the next generation.
- Negotiate on the mining tax – we need it, but we need it done in a cooperative manner.
- Sack Conroy and drop the mandatory internet filter – I’m all for making the internet safer for kids. There’s these things called parents, and they can achieve the same effect as an internet filter by keeping an eye on what their kids do on the net. Putting up a Great Internet Wall of Australia is just a cop-out that is more about nanny-state politics and thought control than real concern for children.
- Full rights for same-sex couples. It’s not about religious morality, it’s about real morality and refusing to have two-tiered citizenry.
- Make it illegal for Tony Abbott to be seen in public in speedos. Really, we just don’t need that sort of sick shit in this world.
Fingers crossed at 9am we’ll start to see some real labor focus again.
[Edit, later that day…]
So Julia is our new Prime Minister, and I having seen some of the footage today of Rudd’s farewell speech, I must say he put a very human and personal face to the entire process. It’s easy to get lost in “I don’t like that X does Y”, but someone baring their soul as he did in that final press conference also goes to remind us of the personal costs that happen in these situations. Regardless of whether we agreed with everything he did, he put his heart and soul into the job, and we must always, if nothing else, be very mindful that it was Rudd who had the guts and the integrity to apologise to the stolen generations. I don’t think there could be any greater than a politician and a leader of a country could be remembered for than having the courage to apologise for past wrongs. In short: Thanks Kevin for doing the right thing and no longer allowing the stolen generations to be swept under the carpet. We owe you one for that at least.
Some might suggest Rudd’s legacy should more be helping to ensure that Australia was steered away from the worst of the GFC. However, that was a transient economic process. What he did with the GFC helped families and businesses now. What he did with the apology to the stolen generations was to help remove a stain on this nation’s soul.